Suddenly I See

An audience views a film using 3D glasses

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Went to see Martin Scorsese’s Hugo tonight (review to come!) and we opted for the 3D showing.  I’m not a lover or hater, really, of the medium, but there have certainly been times I loved it, and hated it, depending on the film.  So the news of certain ginormous films being re-released in the next coming months and years in the format has me filled with both excitement and trepidation.

The trailers at Hugo were for a variety of upcoming 3D films, mostly things like The Lorax and The Adventures of Tin-Tin.  But suddenly, a murky, underwater image of a sunken ship appeared on screen and before my “thinking” brain knew what hit it, my “emotional” brain imploded with all the love and intense feelings I have for James Cameron’s Titanic, along with every explosive emotion that came with being 16 and 17 years old, and remembering what I was doing and thinking and saying and smelling when I went to see

Cover of "James Cameron's Titanic"

Cover of James Cameron's Titanic

that flick (NINE times in the theater, no less. It might be a record, just sayin’.).  No lie, when that soaring theme was flooding my ears and a montage of the film was flashing before my eyes, I immediately started crying – I couldn’t help it.  Do I think 3D is going to help this film?  Not really.  To be honest, every time I catch this on TV, I am loath to admit that the special effects haven’t held up, and the acting is cheesy as all get out.  I don’t think retrofitting it to 3D is going to look all that great.  What I AM way pumped for is the opportunity to see this again in a theater.  Some films are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much more fucking magical in an auditorium, surrounded by a screen, darkness, and however-many watts of sound.  I’m not necessarily pumped for the 3D, but I’m stoked into a fire of absolute JOY thinking about it being in an actual theater again.

Tron: Legacy

The same can be said for The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and the Star Wars films – all being re-released over the next couple of years.  The movies that have blown me away with their 3D-ness were films that were SHOT  in 3D.  Not converted to, after the fact.  Avatar is obviously, and rightfully, the standard, but the under-appreciated Tron: Legacy was a feast to the senses, as was How To Train Your Dragon (whose flight sequences were far more exhilarating than Avatar‘s).  Converting movies gives you Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (or Clash of the Titans, Transformers, we could go on).  A mediocre film that was quite visually interesting, but when you throw in the post-production 3D, it looks so muddy and stupid, it ends up taking away from whatever you were trying to attain.

I know for a fact that I’ll pay to go see these most (if not all) of these again, they can have my money – I WANT to give it to them.  But not for the 3D.  Just for the enjoyment of having the all-encompassing, immersive, blast-from-my-past adventure of seeing them again on the big screen.


Near, Far, Wherever You Are…

As a fierce movie lover, I also appreciate and adore a beautiful, moving score.  Plus, I’m in the mood to compose a list. 😉  I’ve been thinking about this one for a while, but these are my top 7, in order (!!).  Beware:  Everything described below moved me to tears.

7. Last of the Mohicans (Randy Edelman & Trevor Jones) – This film is magnificent, with music to match.  The sounds convey the terror, grandeur, despair, and hope that the film brings about.  The “Main Title” is stunningly ancient and epic-sounding, and makes my heart feel heavy.

6. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Howard Shore) – When I hear this music, I feel safe.  There’s no other word to describe it.  As deservedly beloved and just freaking awesome as these films are, their score is every bit as wonderful.  Hopeful, yet dark, the music fills me with the sort of relaxed melancholy that I need to feel every once in a while in order to maintain my sanity.  The Enya tune “May It Be” is gorgeous, and fits with the otherworldly tone of the story.  Tracks like “Concerning Hobbits” immediately fill my head with images of the Shire.  My personal favorite is the graceful and exquisite “The Breaking of the Fellowship”, which never fails to deliver the most spectacular goosebumps.

5. Jurassic Park (John Williams) – Arguably the greatest composer alive today, and certainly the most recognizable and iconic, Williams’ score for this spectacular film (and personal favorite of mine) is, in my opinion, his most delightful and straight up gorgeous work.  I don’t really understand how he didn’t win an Oscar for this one.  It gets across the majesty, the awe, the wonder.  The final scene, as Sam Neill and company fly away from the island and watch the birds flying over the water as the sun sets while the main theme plays, stuns me each and every time.

4. Signs & Lady in the Water (James Newton Howard) – Howard is one of my favorite composers, and he has scored every M. Night Shyamalan film.  These two are the best, I think, although there are devotees for each of the Shyamalan movie soundtracks.  Honestly, the music is one of the very few reasons I liked Lady, but it was so damn arresting, I couldn’t help it.  I cry every single time I hear the disarming and elegant “The Healing.”  “Prologue” and “The Great Eatlon” are also excellent and have been known to activate the waterworks.  As far as Signs goes, I did love the heck out of that movie, and the music captured the “everything happens for a reason” message, and pretty much hit it out of the park.  “The Hands of Fate pt. 2” PERFECTLY evokes a scene where everything makes sense, it all comes together, and you know everything will be okay.  Sweet lord, do I love that track.

3. How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell) – My love for this film is almost irrational, and the same goes for its accompanying score.  There’s no way John Powell could have captured the exhilaration of this story any more perfectly than he did here; it’s THAT GOOD.  “Coming Back Around” and “Test Drive” actually make me feel like I could f***ing fly, and “Romantic Flight” and “Forbidden Friendship” never fail to bring on the choke in the back of my throat.  Hell, I’d walk down the aisle to the latter.  It’s that touching/masterful/enchanting.

2. Rudy (James Newton Howard Jerry Goldsmith) – The only composer on my list to garner two spots, Howard’s Goldsmith’s staggeringly beautiful composition makes me feel that, just like Rudy himself, I can do anything.  Uplifting, hopeful, inspirational, without being sickly sweet or cheesy,  the ten tracks on this relatively short soundtrack all manage to evoke almost every worthwhile human emotion in existence.  He should have won a Nobel Peace Prize for this, or at the very least, an Oscar.  Sadly he got neither, but we, the listeners, are the real winners.  If “The Final Game” (especially the final few minutes) doesn’t make your chest swell with dreams and ambitions, check your pulse, you’re probably dead. *Edit*I was notified by a kindly commenter that I had the wrong maestro listed above; which is both utterly embarrassing and also totally annoying because I’ve had the actual CD since I was 17 and also wrote this post very late at night, in a complete and total daze. I apologize for the discrepancy. 🙂

1. Titanic (James Horner) – Go on and hate.  And then die.  I don’t care – because this stands as my favorite film score.  Ever.  I’ll never forget the first time I heard “My Heart Will Go On”; I’m pretty sure my heart stopped, and it’s one of those moments where you remember what you were doing, where you were, and so on.  I know it’s cheesy, and I know it’s got to be one of the most over-played (and despised) songs in the history of music, but it’s beautiful, plain and simple.  Horner won an Oscar for the song and the overall score, and I think it’s his pinnacle.  And he has quite the resume.  Equal parts tragic and magnificent, I don’t know that I’ve heard anything so hauntingly, devastatingly beautiful.


Only Shooting Stars Break The Mold

Turns out, animated films are much harder to rate than I expected.  I loved Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King…I could go on forever.  Monsters, Inc., Kung Fu Panda, The Rescuers…okay, seriously.  Gun to my head, these are my top 6:

The Sword in the Stone: This awesome flick made in 1963 was so fucking magical to me as a kid.  And no, I was not yet alive in 1963 but I did see it a couple decades later and it made me laugh and swoon and cry and feel every other warm and snuggly feeling a little girl is capable of.  Even thinking about it now gives me goosebumps.  The songs and the magic and the animals and the wizard’s duel with Madam Mim.  And the fact that it’s such a total underdog story – yes, even then I was a sucker for the underdog.

Toy Story: Though I did enjoy the 2nd and 3rd sequels, neither really compared to the original.  Tom Hanks and Tim Allen set a new standard with regard to cartoon voices.  They totally sold it- the humor, the conflict, the banter- immersing their audience completely in the secret lives of our toys.

How To Train Your Dragon: Toothless and Hiccup are the most adorable, heartwarming duo since Shaggy and Scooby Doo.  I watched this because my nephew insisted on it and, not knowing what to expect, I assumed it’d be as cute and bland as most animated films made in the past few years.  Within minutes, I knew this was something truly special – something as magical and stirring as my favorites from childhood.  Since that first viewing, I’ve watched it three more times (with no child around to “make” me) and each time, found myself engrossed in the story and characters and loving every minute of it.

Beauty & the Beast: The French countryside, the ominous castle, the animated teacups and candlesticks, the threatening woods and wolves, the forbidden west wing, the enchanted rose, the music, the dancing…what could be more magical and captivating than all of that?

Finding Nemo: The very thought of this movie makes my heart swell like I’m the Grinch on Christmas.  From Bruce the great white trying to conquer his carnivorous appetite to Dory speaking whale- this flick made me laugh out loud as well as tear up.  The genius of it!  A fish with short-term memory loss?  A neurotic, control-freak clown fish?  A totally gnarly surfer-dude sea turtle?  Each and every character is not only cute and warm, they’re cool as hell.  Nemo and Marlin and Dory- if I believed in reincarnation, I’d pray to come back as an inhabitant of their sea anemone.

Shrek: This flick was the first (that I could remember) animated movie that aimed to entertain both kids and adults, with the adult-oriented humor artful enough to go right over the heads of the children and the child-oriented humor silly enough to keep them interested.  It’s just so fucking smart!  I saw it in college and laughed almost non-stop.  I loved the pop culture references (the Otis Redding throw-back, Monsieur Hood and the Merry Men) and the spin on the old-as-time fairy tale.  And Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy were completely PERFECT.  Topping it all off, the fantastic soundtrack!  From Halfcocked’s “Bad Reputation” to the soul-wrenching “Hallelujah,” sung so poetically by John Cale, each and every song fit so well and helped turn this child’s movie into a film to span the generations.


Unexpected, What You Did To My Heart

Oy vey was this hard.  When I was a kid, my pipe dream job was to be an animator for Disney, so I love me some cartoons.  I couldn’t condense this list – these are my favorites, dammit.  In no particular order, because that would be fucking impossible:

Anastasia:  An overlooked gem.  Beautiful animation, a total princess fantasy, John Cusack’s sexy voice as one of the hottest hand-drawn men to grace the screen, and the MUSIC, oh how I love it. *cough*I still listen to this soundtrack in the car*cough

How to Train Your Dragon:  My favorite film of 2010, and also probably an all-time fave as well.  The 3D was stunning, the breathtaking flying sequences better than Avatar, and Toothless looks and acts like my cat.  Plus, the soundtrack is stellar.

Kung Fu Panda:  Didn’t expect to like this one, but was oh-so pleasantly surprised.  The celeb vocal talents were fine, but the spectacular animation is what blew me away.  In particular, the kung fu action sequences would give any live-action martial arts flick a run for its money.  The scene where Tai Lung escapes from prison was pretty awe-inducing.

Shrek 2:  Puss N Boots, giving his famous look.  And of course the wit and heart.  I find the other Shreks to be lacking in various departments, but this one got it just right, on all counts.

The Land Before Time:  My favorite childhood film.  Every time I watch it, there’s still a tiny chunk of my brain that thinks, “Maybe THIS time Littlefoot’s mom will make it!”  A wonderful story, fun characters, the happiest ending ever, and the best cheesy song plays over the credits.

Sleeping Beauty:  Old, OLD-ass Disney at its elegant best.  For many years I wanted to name a future daughter Aurora.  Malificent is one of the most exquisite villainesses to grace the screen, and the maternal trifecta of Flora, Fauna and Merriweather adds a level of comfort to this classic tale.

An American Tail:  Oh Fievel, you precious little mouse, you.  Another Don Bluth tour de force.  Seriously, “Somewhere Out There”??  I’ve got goosebumps.

Robin Hood:  This seriously underrated movie is funny, adorable, and has that funky 70s vibe going.

The Little Mermaid & Beauty and the Beast:  I fawn over both of these here.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame:  This gets forgotten about, but I thought it was beautiful and moving.

Finding Nemo & Monsters, Inc.:  My thoughts on these masterpieces here.

Bolt:  Any cat or dog lover needs to see this sweet tale…I cried, hard, of course.